I, and many others, received an email yesterday from Richard Feinman, PhD asking for help with an issue that will have an impact on us all. We have the opportuinty to share our thoughts on what low-carb guidelines should be recommended if presented to the general public. Read below to get the details:
The question bears on recommendations along the lines of the USDA meeting that is coming up. It arises from a seminar that Eric Westman gave at Downstate. The group at Downstate is not particularly doctrinaire and the talk was well received but Dr. Sheldon Landesman of the School of Public Health raised a good question: "the major focus of diets based on carbohydrate restriction are fundamentally therapeutic. How could the benefits that you presented be utilized in making recommendations to the population at large?" So while 20 g a day might be very beneficial for somebody with diabetes or somebody trying to make a big impact on weight loss, even the maintenance phase of people on low carbohydrate diets may be different than what would be recommended for everybody.
Also whereas the population at large has significant amount of overweight and obesity, a large part of the population is not overweight and even those who are, may not want to lose weight at the moment. The question is quite pressing in that the USDA has convened a panel to make new recommendations for 2010. Many of us are upset that there is no representation of the panel of people who have experience with carbohydrate restriction and some who are on the panel are probably actively antagonistic to such an approach. On the other hand, Brian Wansink the chairman of the committee is aware of the problem and open to suggestions on carbohydrate restriction.
So, the question is: how can the benefits of carbohydrate restriction that you have experienced personally or in your immediate environment be translated into reasonable recommendations that the USDA could put out? In other words, if you actually had your way what kind of recommendations would you like to see the USDA make? Recommendations should be short and to the point.
If you can encourage your readers to send their suggestions to your blog and also copy to Lauri Cagnassola (firstname.lastname@example.org) the Metabolism Society will organize them. We will publish the results in the scientific and popular literature and also communicate some of the main points to Brian.
I think they are right to call our bluff on what we would actually do if we had access to policy.
Richard Feinman, PhD
I urge you to think on this topic and submit your suggestions and recommendations. Feel free to post them here, send them to me in an e-mail and pass them on to Lauri Cagnassola. We can make a difference if we all do our part.